Thursday, May 21, 2020

Oldenhammer: the missing years





Especially attentive readers of Oldenhammer-in-Toronto may have noticed a two year hiatus where I failed to publish any new posts. I also stopped commenting on other Oldhammer blogs and my painting output dropped to fraction of what it normally is. (You can see one of the miniatures I did manage to finish in the picture above: the druid Ferndale Snart from 1985). My absence from the hobby wasn't a result of losing interest, losing a job, finding a job, finding God, moving house, or having a baby.

I had to suspend blogging because I was writing a book. I started it a long time ago but spent years just tinkering and dithering. Only since 2017 did I finally buckle down, and  - as I did - I found that writing began to dominate more and more of my time. Finally, there was room for almost nothing else. The only way I was going to finish this bastard was by putting everything else aside.


Xuedou, the man who compiled
The Blue Cliff Record
The book treats an unusual topic: it's a commentary on one of the classic works of Zen Buddhism, The Blue Cliff Record. This wonderful medieval text is a collection of 100 stories about the teachers who founded the Zen school in China during the Tang dynasty.

I've studied with a Zen Master since 2004 and was ordained myself as a Zen Master (or meditation teacher) five years ago. One of the things that drew me to Zen in the first place was The Blue Cliff Record, which is, by turns, baffling, enlightening and hilarious. I wanted to write a book to help other readers enjoy The Record as much as I do.

I'm also proud to say there is an important connection between my book and our hobby: while I was still writing it, Zhu Bajiee drew six amazing illustrations for me. These pictures really inspired me during a particularly difficult period in the creative process. (You can see an excellent example of Zhu's recent work in this art for Crooked Dice Miniatures). I'm still unsure whether my publisher will include Zhu's illustrations in the printed edition of my book, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

I'll have more to say about my book when it gets closer to the publication date, which is tentatively set for July 2021.

In the meantime, for those of you intrigued by Zen, I'll leave you with three videos that I recently posted on Youtube for my meditation students. The videos deal with how to use mindfulness to help cope with Covid-19. If you are feeling stress, self-doubt or anxiety, I hope you will check them out.











Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the stack of Osprey military histories on the bookshelfThere's a little miniature gaming everywhere in my house, even the meditation room!


23 comments:

  1. We'll that's my theory that you had been caught smuggling diamonds and thrown into a South American jail and had to dig your way out with a spoon, well and truly scuppered.

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    1. I remember when a popular member on Cool Mini or Not actually exited the site because apparently he went to prison for several years for some sort of white-collar computer crime!

      I didn't suspect that in this case, obviously. Having two children myself, I assumed it was something along those lines.

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    2. There's an excellent blog called "Sorry I haven't posted" that collects the excuses real bloggers have used when they go on hiatus. It is pretty sad/funny."Hey gang. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I recently had a very, very, very, minor, very, very, very, mild heart attack."

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    3. I believe that was Highlander Studios' excuse a while ago. And by "excuse", I mean "entirely true" :O

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  2. Great to have you back! And that´s one nice druid there.

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    Replies
    1. Ferndale is a fantastic sculpt. If you're going to be a druid, you might as well be a drunk druid.

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  3. Congrats on the book! That's awesome news. Glad you are back to blogging tho and hopefully get to see more excellent painted miniatures. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Nice to see/read you again too ABG! I do have some goodies that are ready to share now, and I'm looking forward to getting them posted. I also hope to revive my "Reading Along with the Lord of the Rings" series.

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  4. Good to have you back.
    Congratulations on the book!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks James! I can't tell you how relieved I am to get the damn thing done. I loved it, but it was eating all my time.

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  5. Congratulattions for your book and welcome back to the hobby!
    If what else it is another form of meditation , isn't it?

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    Replies
    1. Quite so! There is something very interesting of entering the zone of miniature painting, when all your focus falls on the vast difference between dotting a pupil here or .05mm away from here.

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    2. That's what i mean:) You focus in giving life to your miniature and so time and space expands for a while..Pure "Clearing of mind" meditation.

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  6. Wow! That is really, really cool. You wrote a book, what a serious accomplishment. I applaud you.

    But I won't lie, it'll be good to read your posts again here on the regular :D

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Allison. I missed the breezy ease of writing a blog and I'm looking forward to getting back to it too.

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  7. Congrats on finishing the book Sully, that’s really amazing, it must be so rewarding to write on a topic so near to your heart. I’m sure your resources will be well used during Covid, I think everyone’s experiencing negative vibes. Oh and your paintjob looks great too.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks 24! I was really happy to see another post on your blog too. Those are some sweet beastmen! Let's hope they run into Krapfang's orcs once goblinoids and chaos creatures are no longer required to social distance.

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  10. Good to have you back! And congrats on the book. Always cool to see how diverse all our "other" interests are. Apart from Zhu's illustrations, are there any other connections between your interest in Zen Buddhism and Oldhammer?

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